Peter figures prominently in two of our readings today. However, the events are out of order chronologically. In the first reading from the Acts the Apostles, we see Peter after he has fully integrated the Christ event. Here he is "filled with the Holy Spirit," healing and teaching as a member of the body of Christ.
In the Gospel, Peter is still in a period of discernment. A better word might be confusion. This simple Galilean fisherman had left his work and old life behind. He had been with Jesus through difficult times and had seen Him perform signs and wonders. He had followed all the way to Jerusalem and had seen Him taken prisoner, tried, and executed. All of Peter’s preconceived notions of God, the Messiah, and of Jesus riding triumphantly into the Holy City, declaring the new Kingdom of God, and wiping away the Roman rule had vanished. It’s easy to imagine the Peter’s tears in the courtyard of the high priest had been not only for his betrayal of Jesus, but for all that he had lost as well.
Here we find Peter sitting with his companions and friends. Still the impulsive, decisive, Peter, he declares, "I am going fishing!" And off he goes. Now, we must remember that fishing to these men was not a leisure activity. They didn’t go fishing when they wished to sit quietly in a boat and think about things. Fishing was their livelihood. It was hard work. It was the way they earned their daily bread. And at this point in his life, it was probably the only thing that had remained unchanged for Peter.
It seems to me that I often do the same thing when confronted with something new and wonderful by God. There’s a period of confusion, of wondering if what I have seen actually took place. Disbelief and wonder, fear and joy, all dance around in my heart and head. In times like these I will often turn to what I consider "normal."; those activities which comfort me in their ordinariness. Occupying myself with something I know well helps me make space for the new and transformative to work within.
And so it is with Peter and the other disciples. They fish all night and yet catch nothing. And then at dawn, Jesus is there standing on the shore. And what does Jesus do? He cooks them breakfast. Again, an ordinary, everyday task. It is almost as if Jesus himself is saying. "Find Me in the everyday. Find me in the ordinary. Find me within yourself and within those around you."
May I find Jesus not only in the glory and spectacle, but in the simple and plain.
Talib Huff works and volunteers at Christ the King Retreat Center in Citrus Heights, California. You may contact him at [email protected].